Tonight I went to Poets of the American West, 1910-2010, the Poetry Society of America's Centennial Celebration at the Hammer Museum. Five poets read poems of their own and of their favorite poets of the region from the past century.
I was scared it would be pretentious argle-bargle, as the girls of Cable210 would say, but it wasn't. It wasn't pretentious at all. It was beautiful, if a little bit boring.
Wanda Coleman read first, and she read poetry the way poetry is meant to be read. I had never heard poetry read well until I went to college and my roommate read some to me (I am forever grateful to her for this). And then I got the In Their Own Voices: A Century of Recorded Poetry box set and my education continued... which brings me to wonder about education, and do English teachers have any idea how to read poetry? And does anyone today teach children how to read poetry? I mean this literally, how to read it aloud, how it's supposed to be said, not just understood. I know high school kids are made to read at least some small number of poems in English classes; the question is does anyone read them, perform them for the students? Certainly none of my own beloved English teachers ever did when I was in NY and then FL public schools. I loved English, I loved reading, I loved my teachers. I didn't even know they were falling down on this particular job.
Anyway, back to tonight. Wanda Coleman was awesome.
The best line I jotted down in Sharpie (where's my pen?) on the back of the Hammer Winter Calendar (where's my notebook?) was:
"I put my eyes on a diet, my tears are gaining too much weight", from "Heavy Water Blues" by Bob Kaufman, which has many more almost-but-not-quite-too-cute bits I liked.
Two jokes walk into a bar.
The emcee, ohemgee, accidentally pronounced Pasadena as though the n were an ñ. I may say it like that forever, starting now.
I learned two important things that I almost knew before but now really know:
0. CA poets are enthralled with the fires.
1. Modern poets love the word "Egyptologist".
There is a scarf for sale to benefit the Hammer Museum (It's a museum. What kind of museum? A hammer museum.) that says "DO ASK. DO TELL." I kind of like it.
As a performing dancer, I couldn't help noticing the dimensions of the stage and the physical layout of the theater. It was funny to me to see the entire thing used only for a small podium arranged on the far (audience) left of the stage. I mean, it's poetry. But on a stage.
In an art museum! Awesome.
Something someone said made me want to make one of those WANTED posters for Black Friday... like, the reward is offered, but TODAY ONLY, 50% OFF!!
Terry could do it and make it funny. I can't.
PS Better Book Titles is killing me right now. Litgeek humor, anyone?